tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN December 7, 2015 1:00pm-2:01pm PST
today under this new system that they're rolling out the country could potentially put on heightened alert if there's concern over a copycat attack. i'm poppy harlow. that does it for me today. thank you so much for joining me. "the lead" begins right now. thanks, poppy. even in iowa he's huge. "the lead" starts right now. breaking news, first on "the lead" a brand new poll showing the iowa horse race with donald trump towering over all like never before. radicalized for some time, new details from police about the husband and wife terrorists in san bernardino as a new picture surfaces of them coming to america and the investigation into the wife reaches all the way to pakistan. plus, you can see the gunshots. another chicago police shooting, another 400-plus-day wait to see the graphic video. does it show a justifiable killing or murder?
welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the globe. i'm jim sciutto in for jake. and this is "the lead." and breaking news right this second. our cnn/orc poll out of iowa where donald trump looms larger than ever in the republican field with exactly eight weeks left when voting starts and america gets down to the business of actually electing the next president, trump is the overwhelming double-digit leader. winning iowa would be a huge jump start to trump's bid for the nomination. something many people once thought impossible. but something that now looks more and more likely by the day. cnn chief political correspondent dana bash is here to run down the numbers. so, dana, trump went from being statistically tied ahead by really a margin of error and now up by 13. >> we're seeing the trend in the iowa poll ral le mirror what we saw last week in the national poll. trump is best on issues voters
care about from the economy, immigration and growing importance these days what voters see as trump's abilities as commander in chief. just two months until the first presidential contest in iowa and donald trump is ahead there, way ahead. a new cnn/orc poll shows that 33% of likely iowa caucus goers say they'll support trump, that's an eight-point increase from just last month. >> i love you. >> reporter: and trump's support is much more solid than any other candidate. 55% of trump backers say they'll definitely vote for him. >> the american people are looking for a commander in chief who will keep us safe. >> reporter: ted cruz is now in second place overall, but winning among evangelical voters traditionally key in iowa. ben carson tumbled seven points. now the third choice of iowa republicans likely to vote. what unites gop voters is disdain for president obama.
>> this was an act of terrorism. >> reporter: and republican candidates spent the day competing to criticize the president's oval office address on isis. >> we don't need a president who goes on national television and lectures the american people like a school. it condescends to the american people and says the problem we have is islamophobia. >> reporter: ted cruz slammed the president for avoiding the term radical islamic terrorism, something trump who is winning among iowa republican voters on fighting isis and foreign policy noted while live tweeting the president's speech. and marco rubio called it a glaring obama omission. >> it starts by acknowledging to the american people that indeed we are at war. and we are at war with radical islamic jihadists who are also terrorists of course, but motivated by their view of islam. >> reporter: lindsey graham argues the problem isn't rhetoric, it's tactics. the president's refusal to commit more u.s. ground troops to fight isis.
>> nobody in their right mind goes to war to destroy somebody but i won't use ground troops. it hurts the cause to put those limitations. >> taking aim at a democratic president is the easy part for all of these republican presidential candidates. but the big question for voters is what they would do, what these candidates would do if commander in chief to fight isis abroad or stop self-radicalized terrorists in this country. and, jim, we are still missing a lot of specifics across the board in the republican field. >> dana, stay right there. i want to add cnn political commentator donna brazile. katy isn't advising any of the 2016 contenders herself. let's go to the conversation. we have a cnn poll and also another poll out from monmouth. you have ted cruz leading 24% to trump's 19%. explain the differences in methodologies to explain that difference in results. >> sure. a lot of people are looking at this feeling they're being
bombarded with numbers. but there is a really important difference in why the discrepancy. monmouth university's poll, which does show cruz ahead, included mostly the sample size, those who are polled included mostly people who had gone to republican -- vote in republican primaries in the iowa in the past. cnn does that. but then it expands and also focuses a lot on voters who say they're going to go to the 2016 caucuses. trump appears to be drawing support from new voters, people who haven't gone out before. that helps explain why he's doing so much better. >> it's a different profile kind of voter who's going to go. >> the samples. >> i wonder if you agree with that. do you think that will bear out in the primaries? he'll attract so many voters they'll show up not just in the polls but in his actual results on primary day, caucus day rather? >> certainly it could happen. my understanding of the cnn poll is its self-proclaimed likely voters saying they intend to vote which is a big difference from people who actually have a
history of voting. and caucuses are tough to get people to show up at. you have to stick it out for an evening. these things can sometimes last hours and hours and hours. sometimes people come and they're not willing to stick it out. so we don't really know. history as a guide suggests it's not particularly likely. and so i think that's why most of the campaigns would use likely voter sample that is heavy on people that have a history of actually showing up. >> donna, does that make sense to you? one of the criticisms in recent campaigns the polls haven't been that accurate in predicting the actual outcome. >> that's true because if the polls were accurate we'd have president cain, president gingrich on of course the republican side, on the democratic side we would have had president hillary clinton already. so i agree with katy. caucus goers they have to be highly motivated. and on the republican side in 2012 only 121,000 people showed up, 19%. so donald trump may be leading right now, but you have to
organize these people to show up at a certain time, 7:00 p.m. central time. and they have to stick it out. they have to caucus. they have to register and be republicans. look, he's in the cat bird's seat. the rest of these individuals mr. trump, yeah, mr. trump, you're leading. okay. >> you might get a compliment -- >> but just to -- donna, i know you'll remember this. everybody said the same thing about the polls back in 2008 on the democratic side because, you know, barack obama said i'm going to get all these new people to the polls and the clinton campaign said that's not going to happen, but guess what, he did. >> there's something in the numbers beyond the sampling. cnn poll found 55% of people supporting donald trump have definitely decided they will caucus for him. other candidates don't get that kind of strength of support. seems to me that feeds the idea that he will actually draw those voters out. >> but you also found 26% of republican voters in the cnn
poll said that they for sure are going to vote for the candidate they're with. my guess is that's very heavily trump. but almost 75% have said they're still making up their mind. so it tells me that there's still a lot of volatility. trump is without a doubt in the cat bird seat. but he's also the very best known candidate. so it's not particularly surprising. this is a massive field. we've never seen anything like this before. and these candidates are going to become better known particularly in these early states. >> to be fair, we're getting pretty close here. i mean, we're eight weeks away. he's leading in iowa but also leading in new hampshire, right? so let's say the polls bear out. he wins both of those. that's tough momentum. do you look at that, donna, as he wins both of those is he the presumptive republican candidate? >> i mean, how can you stop him? he's dominated the media. he's dominated all of the polls so far. we know that he can, you know, i guess he's self-funded. so donald trump is in a really good position as a republican. but you know at the end of the day it's about delegates.
these polls are really great. they're great for conversations like this where i'm saying donald trump is in the cat bird seat, but i would not call this race over because it's still too early to call it over. >> and as we get closer it's going much more from what people say, publicly what people say to pollsters and the kind of organization these campaigns have on the ground. you cannot underestimate that, especially in iowa caucuses. >> absolutely. >> he's got some -- >> donald trump has some good people in iowa, some veterans, the question is whether he can translate that. >> and in the booth when you make the -- >> at the caucus you actually have to stand up. >> not a private vote. >> it's like i like james brown, i like aretha franklin. you have to declare you want donald trump. can you imagine dana bash looking at me like, really? not cruz. not carson. >> that sounds like a ticket to
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there aren't old people there. there are actually young people with old clothing on. welcome back to "the lead." new video released hours ago show in stark detail another shooting death at the hands of chicago police. prosecutors say they will not charge the officer seen in dashcam video shooting and killing ronald john son. in a matter of seconds you see johnson get out of a car and run from police as you saw before there the officer fires his weapon. the video comes as questions swirl in chicago about a possible cover-up into the death
of laquan mcdonald, he is the black teenager seen in another video shot 16 times by a white police officer. a police report now public in that case contradicts disturbing dashcam video. i want to bring in cnn's ryan young. he's been covering all of this from chicago. ryan, let's start with the new video released today. separate shooting of laquan mcdonald. there's still questions about whether johnson's weapon was planted, aren't there? >> reporter: yeah, the family's still very upset. his lawyer was actually talking about that. when you look at the video of course the quality is not the best. they circle an object and say that is a gun. the family and attorney did not believe that is a gun and think the gun was planted afterwards. and they want to talk about the fact he was running away from the officers and didn't appear to be a threat. but the state attorney's office says other officers have been shot before in that same instance. so you have people bracing for this video to be released. now it's out there. and we saw all the detail that
was given to make sure the public stayed calm today. >> just difficult images to watch. and they were playing there as you were talking, ryan, all this coming as we have now this police report in the laquan mcdonald case contradicting what we saw in the laquan mcdonald video. >> look, that's the real question here. people are obviously pointing at the police department and saying this is a part of the practice of the chicago police department. the fact they don't feel like they always get a fair shake when it comes to investigations here. they believe the police department is involved in a cover-up. so that is the reason why so many people now are happy the d.o.j. is stepping in. after two fatal officer-involved shootings, the chicago police department is now the subject of a federal investigation to determine whether officers engaged in conduct that violated federal law. >> i am joined with the same systems that fail community members also fail con shscience
officers. when suspension and hostility is allowed to fester, it can erupt into unrest. >> reporter: the announcement comes after the release of police reports from the night laquan mcdonald was shot. the reports reveal discrepancies between accounts from the responding officers and what is seen on dashcam video. at 9:57:25, mcdonlald's seen walking in the street with a knife in his right hand. authorities say he punctured the tire of a police car. officer jason van dyke and his partner are on the left hand side of the screen with weapons drawn as mcdonald moves away from the officers. according to the van dyke, quote, mcdonald raised the knife across his chest and over his shoulder pointing the knife at van dyke and attempting to kill van dyke. at 9:57:36 the teen is still walking away from officers. that's when van dyke starts firing. according to the police reports, quote, in defense of his life van dyke back pedalled and fired
his handgun at mcdonald to stop the attack." the police report says, quote, mcdonald appeared to be attempting to get up all the while continuing to point the knife at van dyke. van dyke's partner wrote, mcdonald, quote, swung a knife toward the officers in an aggressive manner. two other officers documented that mcdonald was waving the knife at officers with a third officer saying mcdonald, quote, raised his right arm toward officer van dyke as if attacking van dyke. even the sergeant who recovered the video and reviewed it found it, quote, was consistent with the accounts of all the witnesses as van dyke remains out on bail on first-degree murder charges, his attorney maintains that he acted in self-defense. and, jim, just think about this day. you had loretta lynch talking about what's going on in chicago, the state's attorney talking about what's going on here in chicago, the mayor of chicago is addressing the media
and talking about what's going on with the police department. and everyone's talking about changes, reform and investigation. so you can obviously tell the story is not going away. >> no question. these videos keep those stories alive. ryan young, thank you. joining me now former nypd officer -- police officer eugene o'donnell and here with me in washington van jones. i want to start with you today because the state attorneys announced they will not press charges against the officer who killed ronald johnson in the newest video released today. after watching that video, do you agree with that judgment? >> i would say if it can be established that that is a weapon in the gentleman's hand that was running away, it's a very different case than what you have with laquan mcdonald. my problem is i can't established that based on the video i saw. i saw the freeze frame that she presented when they showed evidence today. and even when they zoomed in you can't -- i couldn't personally distinguish whether or not that was a gun or weapon of any sort or what.
and given the history there in chicago and the level of corruption that we've seen throughout the years on the chicago police department and inability of the authorities there to check themselves with that, i've got still some more questions about that case. >> eugene, i want to ask your view too looking at that video. it's not clear to my own eyes as well whether that was a weapon, but in the heat of the moment the police were investigating a shooting nearby that location. do you agree with the state attorney's decision? >> well, the context is everything. and the last word on this today should be from the attorney general, loretta lynch, who said that these investigations take a long time and they're painstaking. and dissecting them is a complicated matter. and as i say the entire video, witness statements, the entire context is crucial to the final determination of what the officers did properly or not properly. >> let's talk for a moment about timing, van. in chicago you have two police-involved shootings both
more than a year ago. >> yeah. >> talking about 400 some odd days before the videos are released. talk to folks from chicago, lots of allegations about political motivations here, protecting the police. what are your thoughts? >> well, listen, on the second video, this new video, you can understand why it may take some time. it's grainy, there's a lot of stuff going on. there is no excuse for it taking a year on the laquan video. and that's why the mayor's in the hot seat. it looks like a cover-up. i mean, there's not one law enforcement officer in the country who's seen that and said, oh, yeah, that's a good shoot. not one. and yet it takes you a year to release video, a year to bring charges. that whole time the guy is still on the force. that police officer who unloaded his weapon and reloading again was on the force for a year and nobody did anything about it. that's why rahm emanuel's in the hot seat. >> eugene, please stay there and hold the thought. we're going to come back to this right after the break and i want your thoughts on the
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welcome back to "the lead." just moments ago chicago mayor rahm emanuel addressed death of laquan mcdonald and the department of justice now launching an investigation into a possible of pattern of violations by the chicago police department. >> we are going to welcome this investigation. we're going to cooperate with it. and it's in our long-term interest. the city needs answers to what happened in the case of laquan mcdonald's tragic and avoidable
death. >> i want to bring back our panel, that's former nypd officer eugene o'donnell, former st. louis police officer, and van jones here with me in washington. eugene, if i could start with you. in the killing of laquan mcdonald, police officers at the scene contradict the video from their point of view aggressively came towards the officer with a knife in his hand. is this a case of the officers protecting their own, or do you think it's genuinely possible they saw things differently than we see in this dash cam video? >> that's really the question. there's going to be inconsistencies in all of these, but are they so material, so profoundly different these stories that they give rise to the inference that they're covering up a bad shooting. i think the question that i have and i think most people have is why would this officer for no reason kill this young man? the chilling answer which i hope is not true but could i guess conceivably be true is he felt
he couldn't get -- and get away with it. certainly as we're talking about police reforms, chicago would do well to do something new york did after the eric garner case which is to take their entire force at this point without pointing fingers there's lots of good cops here but to run them through deadly force training, run every single street cop through deadly force training to reinforce the idea in the city riddled with gun violence that officers are only shooting because they must not because they choose to. they're shooting as an absolute last resort when life or limb is in the balance, otherwise deadly force is not appropriate. >> yeah. seems like a reasonable idea. look at the chicago tribune, it's wrote a stinging editorial about mcdonlds's death taking on the police union for saying the dash cam video doesn't show the same view that the officers had on the scene. here's what it said. this is from the fraternal order of police, the president dean anglo, would have you believe that another angle mcdonald can be seen menacing the officers with a knife instead of walking
hurriedly away from them. from another angle he's struggling to his knife raised instead of writhing on the ground and falling still, no way. with these statements contradicting so diametrically opposed to what we see in that video seems to be black and white. >> there should be charges. that was a murder. here, you talk about context earlier. look at what happened in laquan mcdonald's case. you had an officer who clearly lied on his report and had that lie corroborated by his fellow officers. that is also context. it's the same police department. same officers. here we have another shooting where we don't have definitive video evidence that there's a weapon in this kid's hand. the question is legitimate as to whether or not that gun was planted. given the history of this department and for the police union to come out and back this officer on this shooting talking about another angle or the guy was still trying to raise up while he's being shot in a
semifetal position on the ground is ludicrous. but many of the unions across this country want zero accountability for their officers no matter what they've done. >> you know, van, you just heard from two former police officers, eugene mentioning it's possible the police involved could think they might get away with it, right? and you have talking about remarkable things to be laid out by former cops. not as fact but as reasonable charges. i mean, you know rahm emanuel he fired his police superintendent after the release of the laquan mcdonald video. is that enough? is his job in danger? >> i think he's in trouble. first of all, he had to have seen these videos. the question has to go through your mind, how can you see these videos and not demand immediate action? in a healthy police department as soon as the police officer stopped firing he would have been arrested. why are you in a situation where not only is the officer not
arrested, there's a report that's clearly false that's put in and then it takes a year -- it takes legal action to get the video popped out, then when the video comes out now suddenly the charges are filed. suddenly the chief of police is fired. what did rahm know and when did he know it? because if you are in a situation where the mayor of this city saw that video and took no action for a year, that itself is horrifying for people in chicago. >> you think he should lose his job? >> i think he needs to be a part of the investigation. i was in chicago last week. people are shocked. in a town where it is very hard to shock people, people are shocked to see this level. again, what did rahm know and when did he know it? he still has not explained to the public what he knew. >> it is important to add the political class has its own code of silence. and the root of this often is bad politics and a failure of political people to do their job. this has been something that's ongoing. if you're going to do radical reform, i think this is an agency that might need something
like a n.a.p. commission. the good cops on the street that are out there right now, they need to be supported. and we need to create a level of public safety chicago dearly needs a level of public safety. six people being shot, 12,000 people shot in this town in the last five years. 12,000 people shot in this town in the last five years. >> eugene, they would be more supported if the public ever saw them challenged to the kind of horrific and egregious misconduct captured on that tape and running rampant in chicago for years. if they ever saw those, quote, gootd officers sand for something, you would see the public rally to them because most people understand we need police. just not the ones -- >> we're going to have to leave it there. great conversation. van jones, thanks as well for joining us. in our national lead, a new look at the san bernardino killers when the wife first entered the u.s. and we just learned she received
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call or go online to learn more about a free trial offer. if you can't afford your medication, astrazeneca may be able to help. welcome back to "the lead." this just in to cnn. donald trump in a new statement just released is calling for, let me be clear about this, the barring of all muslims from entering the united states. i want to bring in cnn's dana bash. dana, what did he say in this statement, and how significant is this? >> well, it's pretty significant. and it's pretty extraordinary. first of all he says that there should be a total and complete shutdown of muslims entering the united states until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on. he then goes onto cite a pugh research center poll which shows 25% of those polled agreed that violence against americans in the u.s. was justified when it
comes to a global jihad. and then he goes onto say this. he goes onto say it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad. >> this, as you say you put the word it's an extraordinary statement, cnn will be doing further reporting on this because the poll certainly questionable. thanks, dana, for giving us the first read on this. of course trump's statement is a reaction to last week's terror attack in san bernardino, the deadliest in the united states since 9/11. today we have new details about the killer couple who slaughtered those 14 people. cnn has learned that syed farook had recently tried to contact overseas terrorist organizations including al nusra in syria and al shabaab in africa.
his father telling an italian newspaper this morning that his son supported the isis goal of creating a caliphate and was fixated on his hate for israel. this comes as security forces in pakistan raided a home that his wife once lived in, searching for any clues about how she became radicalized before her arrival in the u.s. last year. let's get right to cnn's justice correspondent pamela brown tracking the latest. pamela, the fbi said the couple had been radicalized for some time today. do we have any idea, does the fbi have any idea of how long exactly? >> in terms of tashfeen malik, investigators believe she was radicalized before she received her fi yawn say visa to come to the u.s. which is raising questions about the process. and as for syed farook they're look sboog how long he may have been radicalized. his father says he was a follower of the isis leader al baghda baghdadi. the two had been training and preparing and visited the firing range within days of the event.
>> as the investigation has progressed, we have learned and believe that both subjects were radicalized and have been for quite some time. >> reporter: for the first time a picture has emerged of the attackers together. the photo was snapped as the married couple passed through customs at chicago's o'hare airport in july 2014. u.s. officials believe farook's wife tashfeen malik had been radicalized before stepping foot in the u.s. raising alarm bells about the fiancee visa she came in on. the state department says malik would have had to have an in-person interview before receiving her visa, but a state department document obtained by cnn in her immigration file shows she failed to show up for the interview. it's unclear if she ever reschedul rescheduled. >> the background check is extensive as you would get on a regular type of visa or green card or employment situation over here in the states. >> reporter: malik was born in pakistan and spent some of her life in saudi arabia where her father lives. she earned a degree in pharmacy from a womens only pakistani
university, professor there told our reporter she was quiet and reserved. >> there was nothing specially to be noted by the teachers. she was an average student. she came, always came on time. >> reporter: cnn has learned syed farook not only interacted with fbi terrorism subjects but also looked into contacting terrorist groups overseas, like al qaeda affiliate al nusra and al shabaab. farook's father told an italian newspaper his son, quote, shared the ideology of isis leader al baghdadi to create an islamic state. and he was fixated on israel. farook lived with his mother in this home in redlands, california, where investigators found a cache of ammunition and bomb making materials. the attorney general told nbc news investigators are interested in what she may have known about her son and daughter-in-law's activities. >> obviously it's something that we're looking at very, very closely.
>> reporter: it's unclear what started this husband and wife on the path to radicalization, or who may have known about it in advance of the deadly attacks. >> we have found evidence of pre-planning. and we want to find out everyone who participated in the pre-planning, if there was anyone else. we don't know everything yet. we want to find out everyone who profited from it, financed it, and i'm not saying there is anything like that, but we will leave no stone unturned. >> and i've been in touch with the state department, jim, with this question were all the proper procedures followed before tashfeen malik came to the u.s., and the state department says, yes, everything was followed and she did have an in-face interview with the con sol affairs officer. but the question remains what is the process, how rigorous is it, how was she able to come to the u.s. and be a permanent legal resident. >> how deep do they get into your background, political beliefs, questions i'm sure
they're look sboog now. >> yep. >> pamela, thanks very much. how was it these two shooters were never on law enforcement's radar? one senator thinks that intelligence agencies here in the u.s. do not have the power to do all they need to do. he'll explain right after this. what makes this simple salad the best simple salad ever? heart healthy california walnuts. the best simple veggie dish ever? heart healthy california walnuts. the best simple dinner ever?
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and welcome back to "the lead." continuing with our national lead. with the nation on edge in the wake of the san bernardino attacks, president obama and congress are at odds over how to confront isis abroad and addressing fears about home grown terror. joining me now is senator tom cotton, a member of the armed services committee, a fierce opponent of the president on foreign policy, also an iraq veteran. senator cotton, can we get your response to the president's address? >> well, the president seems to be a wartime president who doesn't realize it. while we've got 14 dead americans at the hands of islamic state adherence, the president wanted to lecture us about ineffective gun control measures and on political correctness. what we heard last night was just the president's going to continue with more of the same failed strategy that hasn't been working to date. and doubling down on that strategy is not going to do
anything now. and i worry that more americans are going to die if we don't take the fight to the islamic state. >> so, senator cotton, i want to share with you what the leading republican gop -- 2016 contender has just said in a statement. donald trump just called for halting all muslim immigration into the united states until congress acts. he's leading the presidential race, would you support such a step? >> no, jim. and i haven't seen the statement. but i will say we should take a much closer look at the way we emit persons into this country. for instance, the woman in san bernardino who's responsible for 14 of these murders was let into the country on a so-called fiancee visa. we need to study that more carefully. we also allow countries -- or people from dozens of countries around the world to come here without a visa, everyone though some of those countries have been the source of terrorist attackers in europe and in the middle east. we also need to take a serious look at the syrian refugee program as well.
president obama has been very stubborn on all of these programs. he's not been willin to negotiate with congress over common sense measures that will give the american people the confidence that we're not letting islamic state or al qaeda sleepers into this country to attack americans. and i think that's very regrettable. >> i want to ask you outright, and to be fair you haven't seen the statement, but i am reading directly from it. would you call the trump's call for banning all muslims from entering the country, would you call that outright bigotry, or at least fear mongering? >> well, i would say i don't support the policy, jim. but i also think that the president needs to focus more on defeating the islamic state than on a wave of supposed backlash against muslim americans. the president devoted a disproportionate amount of time on his speech last night to that. i would say where's the evidence for that. i don't see any evidence for it. in fact, in 2014 jewish americans were four times more likely to be targeted by hate crime in this country than we are muslim americans.
loretta lynch, the attorney general, just said last week her greatest fear is not another terror attack but rather anti-muslim backlash. of course we should all respect each other, but at the same time we can't let political correctness hamstring our fight in the war against radical islamic terror. >> i want to talk about nsa surveillance because a change to the nsa surveillance program took effect just last week, which means the agency cannot automatically access as much information on americans' dmesing phone calls as before. and of course we remember the debate two years ago as this was revealed in part through the revelations of edward snowden. you're now working to overturn those changes. in your view would keeping that program going have made a difference in san bernardino? >> jim, it's unclear. but i also don't think that's the right question to ask. there's no intelligence program that's a silver bullet. they all work in harmony together. the nsa's telephone metadata program and human intelligence and satellite intelligence and so forth. kind of like a football team. you can't win with just a good
quarterback, you have to have offensive line, running back, defense, special teams, that's the way intelligence works. even if this program would not have stopped this particular attack, it sure would have been nice to have the immediate data in the minutes and hours after this attack if there had been planned followed attacks since there were 19 pipe bombs discovered in their apartment. and in the future if we don't have this program in place will guarantee that it's not capable of stopping terrorist attacks. the program was legal. it was constitutional. it was fully briefed to congress and it was highly effective. i don't think we should change horses middle stream when we face such a heightened terrorist attack threat. >> senator tom cotton, thanks for joining us this afternoon. >> thanks, jim. when he first announced his cancer diagnosis, president jimmy carter spoke of his life as if he didn't have much time left. now only four months later he says he's cancer free. how? our sanjay gupta explains right after this.
welcome back to "the lead." also in national news today, former president jimmy carter says that he is now cancer free. it was just four months ago when he said that his melanoma skin cancer had spread to his brain. this is an astonishing announcement given melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer. also, don't forget that the 39th president is in his 90s. is this a medical miracle or just science? joining me now is the medical correspondent for cnn sanjay gupta. president carter announced the good news today in his sunday school class. here's what the president had to say. >> the first time i went for a an mri of my brain, the four places were still there, but they were responding to the treatment. and when i went this week they didn't find any cancer at all.
>> so, sanjay, when we heard the news, it was sad news, that president carter had brain cancer. this less than four months ago. many people, myself included, may have thought that it was likely the end. so how is it possible now in such a short period of time especially given his age that he's cancer free? >> well, you know, it certainly is good news. and it's probably a mix of things, jim. just a little bit of background. when he was first diagnosed he had a two-centimeter area in his liver. and he had those four very small areas in his brain as you mentioned. he had the little lesion in his liver removed and he got radiation therapy to his brain. those are both pretty effective therapies by themselves. and, you know, he got it done at a time when it didn't look like the melanoma had really spread any further than those areas. what is interesting, jim, he's also received another medication, a relatively new medication. think of this medication as something that sort of turns on your immune system. your body's immune system can be turned on or bolstered in some
way to better fight the cancer. this is a new drug just approved last year. there's not a lot of data on it. but in his case it may be what's keeping his melanoma at bay. he's 91 years old and he looks great. he's tolerating this really well. >> it's incredible to see. just to be clear and i think a lot of us who've had family members with cancer, i mean, we know that the mri doesn't show cancer. but that doesn't necessarily mean that cancer is gone. so what are the chances of actual remission here? >> well, you make a good point. there's a certain limitation to the studies that we have. they can find things only of a certain size. the mri doesn't see it, it doesn't mean that there aren't smaller patches still there. again, this is good news. i think the chances of remission are a little bit hard to tell. met static melanoma is one of these cancers that can grow very quickly even within weeks. gone four or five months where he hasn't had significant growth. so if he's able to maintain thiz therapy which he is and continues to work, his chances
are it might be pretty good. we are sort of in a new era, jim, of how we treat these cancers. it's not just chemo, surgery, radiation, it's using these medications that harness our own body's natural immune system to fight cancer. it's been happening for some time, but now we're getting some real proof that it could potentially work. we'll have to wait and see. doctors say that a lot, patients don't love to hear it but it's probably the right answer here. we've got to wait and see. >> for folks back home who might themselves have someone they know or love going through something like this, do you see a hopeful sign in someone his age getting such good news at this stage? >> absolutely. 91 years old, he's been a good patient. he's obviously a very robust 91-year-old person. but i think, again, this idea that we've had these standard therapies for some time, they've worked intermittently. but now with these new types of therapies that probably do something that the body could have done all along just helping the body along i think is really important. i think that not just for
melanoma but other types overcancers as well, cancer comes in sometimes and disables the immune system. this turns it back on. >> good cancer news good for everybody. thanks very much dr. sanjay gupta. i'm jim sciutto in today for jake tapper. i turn you over now to the capable hands of wolf blitzer. he is as always in "the situation room." happening now, breaking news. for quite some time the fbi says terrorists behind the san bernardino attacks were radicalized long before the massacre. now investigators are focusing in on the couple's overseas trips. who did they see and what was their connection to other countries? target practice, the killers now known to have visited multiple shooting ranges in southern california, even as they were stockpiling ammunition and explosives. how do they practice for their attack unnoticed? secret life. new details of the female terrorist who pledged allegiance to isis,